Ironman Malaysia 2017
It took me almost two weeks to finally sit and write this race report. I still feel the highs from the race and can’t move on from all the excitement I had in Langkawi two weeks ago. Ironman Malaysia is like an unofficial national championship for Malaysian triathletes. Almost everyone I know from the local Tri community descended on the island to battle it out for the bragging rights to finish an Ironman or finishing among the top Malaysian finishers on home soil. I would say everyone must be proud to earn their Ironman title in Langkawi. It is among the toughest Iron distance courses in the world for crying out loud. I personally took this race very seriously. My goals were to PB, complete the race in less than 12 hours and finish among the top 20 Malaysian. Going into this race I secretly marked few Malaysian triathletes I know, rename them as the world’s top athletes and pretended that we are racing in Kailua-Kona. Off course I excluded the likes of Rupert Chen, Shahrom Abdullah, Muhamad Allie Helmy and Hafiz Wong. They are on a different level.
· Huzaifah aka Jepah – Sebastian Kienle
· Razlan Razali – Cameron Wurf
· Asyraf Zamzuri – Lionel Sanders
· Safzan Mukhtar – James Cunnama
· Chan Jun Shen – Ben Hoffman
· Off course I get to be Patrick Lange, I was the scriptwriter for this play after all.
|At swim practice with some of Doha Contingent (Photo: Enaikay)|
|First out of water, NOT (Photo : Fiz Said)|
Actual Swim+T1 = 1:34:00
Delay = 0:15:00
|Tour de Langkawi (Photo: A Yam Man)|
|Hill galore (Photo: Fiz Said)|
The fun was short lived though as we turned right into Lisram highway before Kuah town and hit the first real hill. The hill has about 10% gradient and went for a kilometer. I saw Harum Delima at the start of the climb and she wasn’t look too happy. I later found that she was not having a good day and had a food poisoning. I didn’t know, I thought it was her usual game face. I climbed the hill with my biggest cog (27) and still felt heavy. My speed went from 35 kmh to 7.9 kmh and that climb felt a lot longer than 1 km. A few people even got off and pushed their bikes, I was not that much faster. What goes up must come down, and it came down at a very fast speed. Like a roller coaster, it was time to climb the next hill. The second hill was a bit easier as we carried the momentum from the first. After a short climb to the crest, it was an exhilarating experience on the descent as I took a corner at 65kmh. The third hill came soon after. This aptly named Bukit Hantu (Ghost Hill) was probably the hardest. 12% gradient change for almost 2 km. My bike almost went stationary and I was pretty sure could walk faster. Despite that, I was not ready to take the walk of shame. I was cursing as I spin up the hill and my thought was with my wife. I was worried if she could climb this hill when the biggest cog on her cassette has only 25 teeth. It turns out she was a better climber than me. Her speed climbing up this hill was 8 kmh, while I did half of that speed.
|What goes up must come down (Photo: Jack Ah Beh)|
Actual Swim + T1+Bike+T2 = 8:03:58
Delay = 0:16:60
|On auto cruise (Photo: Fiz Said)|
After 17 km I was back at MIEC and stop at the Special Need to grab my Red Bull where I saw one of my favourite pros, Laurel Wassner. She was struggling too. I told her to finish the race and get that Kona points. She responded and soon was running strong again. She seemed to thrive in difficult situations. That’s why she’s one of my favourites. What a strong woman she is. I was still running well and my average pace was 5:45/km even with the walk breaks at the aid stations. My ritual at every aid station was splash a dipper of cold water, drank a cup of coke or water and eat something while walking the entire length of the aid stations. While the cold splash was refreshing and helped to cool my core temperature, it caused another problem. My compression socks are now wet and soggy. I could feel blisters were brewing on the sole of my feet. It has becoming more and more uncomfortable to run now. I saw Huzaifah aka Jepah aka Sebastian Kienle just up ahead hobbling. Looked like he was suffering with cramps. Wow Langkawi was so unforgiving. Not one was spared except maybe Romain Guillaume and Diana Riesler. Huzaifah stop at a medic tent to get a muscles spray when I passed him. Then I caught Asyraf (Lionel Sanders) walking. He came with me but his breathing was labored. I was happy to finally have a company. The feeling when I ran side by side with him was very much like the Ironwar between Dave Scott and Mark Allen. Too bad it was short-lived. The pace was too hard for the stricken Asyraf. I looked at my watch and my half marathon time was 2:03. I was getting more uncomfortable running with blisters and the wet socks. I removed the socks and ran sockless. It felt better; momentarily. I had sand and grits in my shoes from the beach run. They cuts through my soaked skin and blisters. Every stride was like stepping on broken glass. I tried to remain calm and ran light on my toes. Clearly it was not realistic to keep pushing now. My pace has now dropped to around 6:15/km. I bumped into Perrine again at around km 30. She was now walking with her hand pressed on her ribs. Clearly racing an Ironman with two broken ribs was too hard even for Perrine, but I had no doubt she would still made the cut off time. I continued running from one aid station to the next while ignoring the pain. The last 10 km surprisingly went by quickly. Before I knew it I was back at Meritus and running on the finishing chute. I saw my supporters and Hani was waving the Johor flag. My feeling at the time was pure joy. I grabbed the flag and crossed the finish line in 12:28. I was a happy man. It may not be a sub 12 but I achieved the other two goals I set for myself. I had a PB in Langkawi when people said it was not a PB course and I came 14th among the top Malaysian male finishers.
|Survival mode (Photo: Deorunner)|
|We did it (Photo: Adaha)|
I have so many people to thank for. My family, my employer ORYX GTL, my very supportive friends especially Hassan and family for looking after our children while we were away and training buddies from MAD Triathlon, Triclub Doha and Team Farhana. Without them this would be impossible. I still believe that trainings and perseverance could only take you to the start line. It was the support and love from the people around you that will carry you over the finish line. Thank you thank you thank you.